Last night I attended an “Eat, Pray, Love” themed screening party serving a huge italian dinner with actual dishes from the movie–even down to the cinnamon-ginger gelato. Basically, my version of heaven on earth and a rockin’ Saturday night.
I was driving home with my friend, belly full of Italian decadence, head full of quirky thoughts from Elizabeth Gilbert and my heart full of love–ready to go home and snuggle my amazing dog, Ashi.
I wistfully began to ramble on about the amazing characteristics and perks of my little companion ending my flourish with how incredibly cute and stubborn she is. My friend simply laughed and piped in, “Like mother, like child.”
What?–me? Stubborn? You must be kidding. I’m simply well focused! Right?
I began to think of ‘stubborn’ verses being driven or focused. I had my ‘stubbornness’ to thank for much of my yoga practice.
“99% practice, 1% theory,” as Pattabhi Jois would always say. You need to keep showing up on your mat and in your life everyday. I knew that if I truly wanted to learn a pose, I would have to bury my ego, fall down repeatedly and explore all of my options. Let me put it simply–
Some days you’re going to feel like a rock star. Some days you’re just going to feel like a rock.
I then realized that I wasn’t stubborn in the negative sense of the word, but that I was determined to find my full worth, my ability to laugh at my failures and view every character in my life and moment in time as a teacher. This approach is what gives the challenging yoga postures so much allure.
We have to show up and be present. We have to be equally connected with failure as we are to success–and if all goes well, I say we all go out for cinnamon-ginger gelato afterwards to celebrate! So read on, test our your fledgling wings and get ready to fly with Flying Pigeon.
Pose: Eka Pada Galavasana (Flying Pigeon)
Keep it simple. Start your engine.
Begin standing crossing the right ankle above the left knee cap keeping the foot flexed to protect the knee. Bend the standing leg bearing the weight in the heel as the hips descend into a squat. If you feel immediate sensation here, pause and enjoy the opening–this may be your pose for a while to properly open the hip. If you’re still good to go, hinge from the hips reaching the torso forward extending the arms out to grab hold of an imaginary steering wheel. Keeping your eyes on the road (yes, in front of you), continue to fold the torso over the thighs as if you were in a tiny race car low to the ground. Either hold here to enter step two or press back to stand and repeat on the left side.
Rev the engine.
Release the imaginary grip on the steering wheel and place the fingertips onto the ground. If the hands almost touch the ground but not quite, grab two blocks and adjust them to the appropriate height. Place the palms flat onto the blocks or ground and walk them in a few inches towards the toes. Keep the gaze forward and bend the standing leg deeper shifting the right shin bone onto the triceps as far up towards the arm pits as comfortably possible. Lock the right toes around the left outer arm as if they were fingers grasping to hold on. Bend the elbows towards Chaturanga, keeping them directly over the wrists–remember this is the base of your building. Hold for 5-8 breaths and release or enter from here into Step 3.
Baby Pigeon’s first test drive.
Look slightly forward of the fingertips and bend the elbows towards Chaturanga. Take the left foot and wiggle it back an inch. Bend the elbows again, repeat the wiggle back action of the left foot. Continue this ‘bend & wiggle’ dance until the back leg bears minimal weight. Pull the left heel off the ground tight to the bottom. Hug the elbows in to create resistance and less weight on the arms. Round the upper back like Cat’s Breath.
Release or. . .
Extend the tail feather!
Keeping a strong hug of the forearms and round in the upper back, begin the push through the ball of the back foot (think like a Barbie foot). Imagine something behind you that you’re trying to push away so that the entire length of the leg fires up. It is crucial to fully animate the back leg or the weight will pull the leg (tail feather) back down to the ground. Spread the toes, elongate through the back of the knee cap and remember full, relaxed breath. Place the back foot onto the ground and come into a Child’s Pose to release.
*This may be many of your first attempts at flight. Remember that baby birds fall out of the nest all of the time, but they figure it out eventually. It’s in you! Just be patient, playful and enjoy the journey and exploration.